[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Father and Son at the Atari

November 7th, 2011 by Benj Edwards

Atari 400/800 BASIC Reference Manual Cover - 1979Stranded in a jungle with only a desk, a cup of coffee, and an Atari 800.

I’ve always enjoyed the illustration style found on the earliest Atari 400/800 instruction manuals, such as the one here for the Basic Reference Manual. I’ve included an extra large scan this time so you can enjoy the detail up close.

Does anybody know the name of the artist who did them? I’ll admit I haven’t looked very hard.

By the way, this manual was written by River Raid creator Carol Shaw.

[ From Atari 400/800 BASIC Reference Manual, circa 1979, cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever programmed with your dad? Tell us about it.

12 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Father and Son at the Atari”

  1. BDD Says:

    The usual box artists were either Steve Hendrickson (he did Space Invaders) or Cliff Spohn (Super Breakout), but there may have been others. I’ll look into it and touch back when I get more info.

  2. BDD Says:

    Here are a few more:

    George Oppermann (of course; did a ton of their coinop artwork)
    Gus Allen
    Rick Guidice
    Hiro Yamagata
    Susan Jaekel
    Steve Kenyon
    Ryan Murray
    Ralph McQuarrie

    Not sure who did what, though. Atari employed a lot of freelance artists.

  3. Josh Renaud Says:

    Definitely remember this manual and the illustration. Thanks for scanning it!

  4. lilimist Says:

    Have you ever programmed with your dad? Tell us about it.

    Yeah. I used to pore over my dad’s collection of C64-related magazines in the early-mid 80s in the first-dawn light before he woke up. (Which I partly blame for my near sightedness today.) I chewed through the C64 basic examples in the manual, and then he bought me all of the Byte Brothers boy-detective solve stuff with their trusty C64s tomes, heh. We also got into Turtle Graphics together, which gave me a heads-up before we studied it at school in grade 4. I’m still a programmer today because of my dad.

  5. idisjunction Says:

    My father once helped me write a LOGO program (on an old Mac Classic II) to draw a brick house with windows and a roof. My brain has trouble wrapping itself around a lot of programming structures.

  6. Alexander Says:

    The closest Ive come to programming with my dad was when he showed me DOS code for a CD he was writing to make it auto-play. I didn’t understand at the time, but now I totally do. In fact, I think he barely understands it.

  7. Donn Says:

    I have programmed with my dad, in the very scenario depicted in the artwork, with that very manual and machine (Atari 800)! Great stuff. Just this weekend I set the old 800 back up again, still fully functional, for the not-far-off day when my own son is ready to play with BASIC, and of course play Star Raiders.

  8. Kris Says:

    My dad introduced me to C when I was 10, and I did a little here and there with him, watching and learning over the years. Came in handy when I had to do a lot of C++ on my degree. Am now a C# coder for a living, so his influence lives on.

  9. Donn Says:

    Right on, Kris. I was the same. I became interested in computers because my dad was, and after discovering programming, I knew working with computers and writing code would be my career path. And it was.

  10. anachostic Says:

    My first foray into programming was when my dad brought a Timex Sinclair 1000 home for me. The first thing I did was type in my name, which was difficult, because as Sinclair 1000 owners remember, a single key would spit out a full BASIC command. Once my name was typed in, I hit ENTER, which resulted in a syntax error.

    I looked up at my dad and said, “What? It doesn’t know my name?” To which he sternly responded, “No, you have to read this.” And he handed me the instruction manual. As silly as that exchange sounds, I had later issues wondering how I was going to fit multiple pages of code into one screen, because I thought once the code went off the top of the screen, it was lost.

  11. Scott Stilphen Says:

    Carol Shaw wrote the manual with Keith Brewster.

  12. Kent Brewster Says:

    My dad wrote this book with Carol Shaw, and I was the kid they got to enter and test all the program listings. While I am positive that’s not a picture of my father and I on the cover, I have strong memories of that time: tinkering with code, finding typos, and thinking “hmm, here’s a job I can do sitting down!”

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